William Bell, No. 24

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United States
Name: William Bell
Acquired: 1864 (est.)
In service: circa 1864 - 1867
Out of service: sank at sea
Struck: 1867 (est.)
Captured: 1864
General characteristics
Displacement: 123 ton
Length: 82 feet
Beam: 21 feet
Propulsion: sails
Sail plan: Schooner-rigged
Complement: 1864, 1865

The William Bell No. 24 was a pilot boat used by the Sandy Hook Pilots in the 19th century.

Service History[edit]

The William Bell was built in Greenpoint, Long Island, N. Y. in the year 1863-64 by Edward F. Williams for Joseph Henderson (pilot), William Anderson, John Van Dusen, and James Callahan. She was about 118 tons and cost about $16,000.[1]

On August 11, 1864, during the American Civil War, William Bell, ventured too far out to sea and was captured and burned by the Confederate raiding steamer the CSS Tallahassee.[2] The objective in capturing the vessels was to secure a pilot who could take the Tallahassee into Long Island Sound. The William Bell was 70 miles east southeast of Sandy Hook. In the book, "From Sandy Hook to 62", Charles Edward Russell, describes the chase of the Tallahassee cruiser against William Bell. The Confederate colonel, John Taylor Wood ordered William Bell to be burned. Wood said "Turpentine her and set her on fire."[3]

Construction and early service[edit]

After the loss of the "William Bell", a second "William Bell" was constructed. On May 7, 1865, the William Bell, No. 24 was launched from the yard of E.F. Williams, Greenpoint, New York. Her dimensions were: Length of keel, 82 feet; breadth of beam, 21 feet; depth of hold, 8 feet. The price of boats had gone up because of the war so the second William Bell cost about $24,000. She was a duplicate of the first and was built for speed and strength.[1]

On March 7, 1867, the pilot boat lay full of water, a mile inside of the outer bar at Amagansett, Long Island. She was part owned by Captain Joseph Henderson (5/16th). The vessel was reported as a total loss.[4]

On February 17, 1883, Henderson, Van Deusen, Anderson, and Callahan petitioned the United States for compensation of their loss. On June 5, 1883, Henderson was compensated for $6,170.31, as he owned 5/16 share in the William Bell.[5]


  1. ^ a b "United States. Court of Commissioners of Alabama Claims". Google Books, 1882-85. v. 21. 1882. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  2. ^ United States. Dept. of State, Geneva Arbitration Tribunal - 1872
  3. ^ From Sandy Hook to 62, Charles Edward Russell, 1929
  4. ^ New York Herald (New York, NY) Issue: 11146 Page: 7
  5. ^ The Tallahassee, Complete Rebel History of Her Depredations, the New York Times, pg. 1. and The William Bell, A New York Pilot Boat, the 1969 issue of The Log of Mystic Seaport, pg 17